The level of hydrogen sulfide from Hellisheiði geothermal plant has measured above health limits in Reykjavík today and yesterday, according to RÚV. The Reykjavík Public Health Authority has not seen the level this high in the capital area for a long time.
A warning was issued by the Health Authority yesterday after the level of hydrogen sulfide measured above 50 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) . It reached a half hour peak of almost 150 µg/m3 on Grensásvegur road at 8:30 am yesterday. The main source of the hydrogen sulfide is the Hellisheiði geothermal plant, just east of the city.
The calm wind these days is the reason for the unusually high levels, which are expected to persist until the weekend. At 11 am today, the levels were still above 80 µg/m3. Svava Steinarsdóttir, health representative for the Reykjavík Public Health Authority stated, “Before cleaning equipment was installed at Hellisheiði geothermal plant, we could see higher measurements here in the city, but now, a double cleaning system has been installed, so we normally don’t see such high readings in the city.”
According to a regulation, on which the operation permit for the Hellisheiði plant is based, the hydrogen sulfide pollution may exceed the 24-hour health limit three times a year, which it did for the first time this year yesterday.
The Reykjavík Public Health Authority advises people with respiratory illnesses to follow developments closely. Svava explained that the only inconvenience the high levels of hydrogen sulfide likely results in for healthy people is its bad smell. “But those who have a preexisting sensitivity in their respiratory system can notice discomfort when the levels are high, so we’re advising people with such problems to follow the air quality closely in coming days.”